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Immerse yourself

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By The Staff

SANTA FE – A town that not so long ago had to live without any movie theaters may be about to make up for lost time in a big way.Los Alamos is a front runner to become the location for the world’s first Immersive Visualization Theater.Peter Rogina, president of WorldScape Inc., said he has begun discussions with Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation with an eye to installing a new multi-dimensional immersion facility in the Research Park. The theater would be located outside the security perimeter and adjacent to the main administrative buildings at Los Alamos National Laboratory.Rogina said the theater could be a major new attraction for the county.“To use a Star Wars analogy,” he said, “it would be the world’s first holodeck.” The holodeck, a geek icon, enabled crewmembers in the television series to fuse imagination and reality.Rogina appeared on a panel Saturday presented by the Santa Fe Film Festival on “Entering the Third Dimension,” about new 3-D media technologies.Moderator Peter Warzel, senior vice president of Veriana Networks, introduced the participants and what he called the “hot topic” and “hot product” of the hour, 3-D and immersive imaging technologies.“These technologies are moving beyond the big screen, conceptually, if not in fact,” he said. “Everything will be 3-D from now on.”Rogina’s company is putting together a partnership that involves the laboratory’s Tech Transfer Division and the New Mexico Film Studios.Steve Stringer, an Industrial Fellow at the lab, also participated in the panel. He was involved in creating the laboratory’s visualization room in the Nicholas C. Metropolis Center for Modeling and Simulation. The “Cave,” as it is known, is one of the highest resolution visualization spaces in the world It links 33 stereoscopic digital projectors to provide a 43-million-pixel display on and within three walls and the floor and ceiling. The Cave is used in advanced research projects including nuclear weapons simulations in an environment that is 15 feet wide by 10 feet deep and 12 feet high. Stringer said a “non-disclosure agreement umbrella” was in the works with WorldScape.“We have talked about a couple of projects,” Stringer said. “When they have funding we will be able to do something together.” Rogina said his New Jersey company would have space in and become part of New Mexico Film Studios, the newly announced occupants of the outlet mall in Algodones, formerly known as Traditions.Warzel, who is a former president and chief operating officer of United Artists Theaters noted the dramatic box office success of the 3-D version of the Robert Zemecki’s new “Beowulf” movie.“The 3-D version is being shown on 20 percent of the screens and bringing in 40 percent of the revenue,” he said. “Is it a drive to higher ticket prices by providing a different experience, or is it the wave of the future?”He said many people in the media are saying that everything will have to be shot in 3-D from now on. He also outlined the past history of 3-D, going back to 1915 in the Astor Theater in New York and forward through the “golden era” of the 50s, including “ House of Wax,” and “It Came from Outer Space.”Rogina said he was drawn to New Mexico by LANL’s Cave and by financial incentives available through the state film production program. Much of the work he has done in this area has been under contract with the Navy for immersive training videos, and what he called “early adapters” in the government, including a “battle laboratory” at Fort Dix.Asked if he had thought about what the first production might be for the new theater, Rogina said he was inspired by Disney’s nine camera, nine-screen, 360-degree film “America the Beautiful” shown in the company’s theme parks. “Maybe a ‘New Mexico the Beautiful,’” he said. Also on the panel were George Johnsen, a veteran producer who works extensively in 3-D, who talked about the conceptual differences in the new technologies; and Rod Fleck, a fellow with AMD who talked about the microchips that would be expected to convert large-scale new media content into the home environment.